Wednesday, December 21, 2011

3 Weeks In.

I've been trying to get all our journalings in order, as both Patrick and I documented A LOT from our trip to bring Acacia home. However, at this point, the stories are better kept for our own memories, or to tell over cocktails at dinner parties. We've been home three weeks... and we know that, yeah, hearing about Africa is cool and all... but "How's Acacia doing?!" is the real topic everyone is interested in.

So, with due diligence to our travels, Click here for our (facebook) album of favorite pics from trip #2. For something that was not meant to be a vacation, it had some pretty great vaca-like moments.

Now for all things baby...

Acacia was freaking awesome for us in Addis. She rode around attached to me via baby carrier like a total pro. I even brought her (in a taxi) to the Embassy to pick up her visa, and then out shopping... and did this SOLO! Well, I had a translator, and a driver, but Patrick wasn't... able to accompany me. (I'd told him not to order that salad! FYI, do NOT under any circumstances, eat raw vegetables unless they are peeled when in 3rd world countries.)

It was the moment we entered the airport that this kid kinda lost her marbles. And I don't blame her- the Bole Int'l Airport is not a comfortable place, especially when your flight doesn't leave til 1AM and it's only 9. En route to London, and then to the States, she DID sleep a lot, but was an unhappy camper during waking hours. Our very last flight, a whopping 37 minutes from Newark to Boston, she must have sensed our relief, because she perked up and was pretty calm by the time we met up with my parents smiling faces outside the terminal. Strapping her into the car seat for her very first restrained car ride, I held my breath. But, shoveling her full of rice puffs seemed to keep her satisfied, and she was asleep by the time we made it home.

We put Acacia in our room for the first few days, then moved her into Zinnia's room (now, "The girls' room") with quick success. Minus that first night where her timeclock was all kinds of screwed up, she has slept approximately 12 hours a night ever since. I am SO afraid to jinx myself, but sleep has not been lacking in the least for any of us. Lately, Acacia's even been going down for naps and bedtime without crying... sometimes even giggling. Our secret? I do believe we've just been lucky enough to get a good egg when it comes to zzz's. However, my fostering her ability to self soothe hasn't hurt, either. Zinnia is the one having a tough time, now that she can't sing at the top of her lungs in the dark until she drifts off to sleep.

Zinnia has been having a rough time in general, as expected. Yet in just 3 weeks, we're starting to see the roles be established. Acacia now laughs and squeals JUST like Zinnia, to the point where I have to look to see who's making the noise. She copies her big sister pretty readily, so we have to constantly encourage Zinnia not to grab things, be pushy, etc. Zinnia is great at riling Acacia up, and we're still at a point where we appreciate the chaos as long as it's happy.

Food has not really been a struggle, just a learning experience. Acacia needs a constant reminder that there will always be enough food for her, and that she won't go hungry. We have to try to all eat together at all times, and she doesn't yet know how to stop eating when she feels full. Usually she has to get bored being in her highchair before she will stop. If a container of milk or a box of cheerios crosses her path of vision, laser beams shoot from her eyes. She used to scream, but now that she knows the sign for more, she's gotten comfortable in knowing she can communicate that she's still hungry. It's not that the orphanage starved her; they just followed their own schedule vs. taking a baby's hunger cues. Aka, she got fed when she could be, not when she needed to be. And, they fed those kids so fast, they didn't get a chance to even taste what they were eating (not that porridge or ground pasta had any flavor anyhow!) So far, Acacia will try anything, but definitely favors certain foods. Patrick has shifted his focus on Acacia when it comes to the eternal struggle to get our children to eat broccoli. Neither of them are giving him much satisfaction, but Acacia provides a glimmer of hope! And, considering that the other night she ate a plentiful helping of eggplant curry (filled with garlic!), I'm pretty sure we can say we have a good, healthy, non-picky eater on our hands.

Zinnia was probably the most cautious one year old on the planet. I remember hearing all my friends with children of the same age woefully telling tales of split lips and concussions and countless other scares as a result of the fearless pre-toddler. I just didn't have that problem with the now-three-year-old who will still opt to go down the stairs on her bum.

Not Acacia. She'd have taken ten flying leaps off the top stair by now if I'd let her. She's gotten two eggs on her little forehead from diving head first off the couch without reserve. When she falls on her face on our tile floor, which occurs at least a dozen times a day, there is no dramatic ado for an icepack or a band-aid (and not a plain one, a Dora one. Even though we only buy the plain ones). She gets back up without one tear shed. The funniest thing about Acacia is how much she loves water. She must get that from my dad. ;) She practically dunks her head into the bathtub, and purposely "gets water in her eyes," something we'd grown to learn was an all-time parental sin with our first born.

All in all, for only 3 weeks being home, we've had it pretty good. Acacia is turning into a very well adjusted kid, and the sisterly bond, though in progress, is starting to adhere. We are very excited and ready for Christmas, and gearing up for the first Kwanzaa celebration. (Kwanzaa runs from 12/26 to 1/1.) More on that endeavor in the coming week!

Happy holidays, everyone.

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